Corona effect: Trump threatens WHO to ‘straighten out’ its act or no more funding from the US

Story Highlights
  • Trump warns to stop the funding of WHO from US
  • The organization has defended its initial response to the pandemic, saying it gave world leaders enough time to intervene early in the outbreak

Washington: President Trump threatened to permanently halt U.S. funding to the World Health Organization and “reconsider” the country’s membership in the United Nations body if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements” within the next 30 days.

In a letter to the WHO posted in a late-night tweet, Trump said the global health agency floundered in its early responses to the coronavirus outbreak. In particular, he continued to attack the organization and its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, accusing them of being too soft on China, where the virus is believed to have originated.

Trump temporarily suspended U.S. payments in April for 60 days, an unpopular move that critics said was aimed at distracting from his own administration’s response to the pandemic. His ultimatum Monday, which came as WHO member countries conferred about the pandemic, may provoke more backlash at the international level.

The president has turned the WHO into a frequent target for criticism as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the U.S., infecting more than 1.5 million people in the country and killing more than 90,000 as of Monday night.

“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote in Monday’s letter. “The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”

The U.S. accounted for roughly 20 percent of the WHO’s total budget in the past two years, significantly more than other countries. That has been a particular point of tension for Trump, who has long been skeptical of outsized U.S. contributions to international organizations.

Trump first announced on April 14 that his administration would pause funding for the WHO pending a review of the entity’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Critics have questioned the timing of the move, given the WHO is one of only a few global bodies working to combat the pandemic.

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